I never expected to enjoy an almost week camping trip so much.

But with this as the view from my back porch, how could I not?

Previously, camp/camping for me meant different things at different times in my life.  First, one night in a van with my uncle and cousin because my parents’ idea of roughing it was a hotel without an indoor pool.  I liked being outside, and fishing was fun, but I honestly liked being able to eat all the junk food I wanted more than anything.  Second, a giant group of girls in (air conditioned) bunks who spent all day doing gymnastics, with short breaks to go do flips into the water off ropes and diving boards instead of onto mats and foam pits.  Then, for the majority of my life, it’s been braving an uncomfortable night or two of minimal sleep as an excuse to get drunk in the woods.

Six days, huh?  This would be interesting.  Thank goodness for turtle home, which made it not just bearable, but AWESOME.

Krause Springs Family Property.

Terribly ugly property.  Don’t know how I stood it for six days…

This is not your typical pack-em-in-make-all-the-money campground at all.  The property is owned by family.  It seems like most or all of them live on the property.  They have their favorite campsites (which are reserved unless you have permission).  They seem to put a lot back of what they make into improving the property – for example, there’s the same guy who’s been working on all the beautiful stonework for the last 20 years.  He was out on non-holiday days just laying out a beautiful stone path.

Near the office, there’s a butterfly garden, which we walked through snapping a shit-ton of pictures.  This featured gorgeous spring-fed fountains, amazing manicured gardens with bright, beautiful flowers, the biggest windchimes I’ve ever seen, a koi pond, and a bunch of places to relax and take it all in.

Not too many butterflies, but beauuuutiful gardens.

There’s a natural spring-fed pool, which we frequented a lot.  We’d walk down every hour or two during the day and jump in.  They had a fun little rock wall to jump off, which was the preferred way for me introduce myself to a cold, spring fed body of water (instead of taking 20 minutes to acclimate).

Refreshing!!!

There also was a falls area, which was more like your typical Texas watering hole.  We floated there in the tubes a few days, but it was kind of treacherous to get down there, so we spent more time in the pool.  It also had a rope swing and a jumping cliff.  I decided the last full day was jump-off-all-the-things day, and I started with the cliff.  I must have mis-aimed my jump, because I landed knees down in (thankfully) soft mucky ground.  If I weighed much more, I may have really injured something, so that was enough to decide instead it was just jump-in-the-pool day.

One more thing about the property – it’s TINY!  Mountain biking or hiking around it was less than two miles.  I didn’t get my 10k steps any day while camping and I honestly can get close some days without leaving the house at home.  Super vegtastic vacation was super vegtastic.

On camping in a popup vs a tent…

Turtle home!

There are things that I absolutely LOVE about tent camping.  I love sleeping when you can see the stars and hear all the nature sounds.  I love that I get to spend so much time outside (tent is for napping, changing, or sleeping).  I love waking up early naturally.

I don’t love sleeping on a bumpy air mattress that hurts my back after 2 days.  I don’t love that the summer heat in a tent is unbearable unless you’re sleeping from about 3am to 9am max.  I don’t love being attacked by bugs at sunset.  I don’t love my lungs being wrecked from inhaling campfire constantly.

As I’ve said many times, I want to camp more.  There are so many gorgeous spots in Texas, heck, in Central Texas within an hour or two of our house, and we go so rarely.  It’s too hot, too cold, easier to get a night of sleep in bed vs a tent before a long ride/run, have to pack so much gear into the car, don’t have any shelter from the elements after if we’re chilled to the bone/on the verge of heatstroke.  There are so many races I’d like to do where camping would be so cheap and convenient but… eh… it’s a gamble with everything above.

Enter the popup.  It solved ALMOST every problem I have with camping when the goal of the day is more than beer drinking.

I expected the AC unit to keep it slightly cooler during the day than outside and at least passably bearable to sleep.  I had to sleep with a sweatshirt on with it set on low.  The constantly-on AC made falling asleep a breeze with the white noise (I think I slept better there than at home).  During the day, it kept it cooler than I keep my living room.  Best of all, it filtered the smoke of campfires and the noise of the 20 billion kids camping next door.  I slept ’til noon one day.  NOON.  I can’t even do that at home.

I’ll talk about it more later but we had a small fridge and a sink with running water and a cutting board that laid right over it.  While the AC was my favorite, my hot-sun-loving-but-dirt-hating husband couldn’t get over he had a sink with running water to wash his hands right *there* instead of being a dirty hippie.

The size is amazing.  Just like the tardis, it’s bigger on the inside.  We were happy to have two beds (queen and double) just in case one of us got bed-hoggy but we never used the second.  Also, let me give a shout out to the mattress – the dude that owned it before us did put in some upgrades and the beds were definintely one of them.  They were more comfortable than a lot of hotel beds, and the queen is even heated.  The living space was fully comfortable for two people and I could see a close-knit family of four being okay with it (however, we used the second living space for coolers so it’s four people with less affinity for produce than us).

I was so enamoured with the thing initially, I spent a lot of time in it.  I even gave myself one “rain day” (when it rained for 10 minute in the morning) where I didn’t even go down to the water and sat inside and painted for 5 hours.  However, mid-trip, I realized I’d be pissed if I spent all my time inside while CAMPING, so I found ways to deal with the heat and enjoy the view from the patio.

My ONLY complaint is the pee situation.  We brought a luggable loo, but neither of us could bear to break it out.  I’m not shy about peeing in the woods, but in this area, there were LOTS of people/kids around.  I also don’t mind the walk to the bathrooms when I’m awake.  Whatevs, I like steps.  However, I need to figure out how to pee when waking up in the middle of the night/early morning without the hike to the bathrooms, far into the woods, or risking indecent exposure.  Again, not a huuuuuge deal for two days, but by mid-trip, I was pretty over it.

Beyond dogs and smores…

Looks pretty, tasted even prettier.

Normally while camping I try to keep it simple and pretty much pre-made.  However, this time we had access to a gas stove, a gas grill, a small refrigerator, a sink, and a cutting board/counter (not to mention a microwave, which we tried not to use), so we tried to get a little more creative.

This is a whole post in and of itself (coming soon…), but I’m really impressed with what we were able to cook!  We split things very nicely between eating exactly how we would when we’re home, cooking things like fish tacos, beef stew, and other things made with fresh produce, and also some camping treats like smores, dutch oven popcorn, and a giant bag of crack chips.

Arts and crafts and activities.

BTW, mountain biking trails in sandals is a dumb idea.  Don’t do this at home kids (that’s why I did it while camping?).

I figured each morning would be some activity because, nature.  However, my sleep schedule with perfect temps and all the white noise of the AC quickly defaulted to it’s normal vampire 2-3am sleep and 10-noon wakeup.  So, considering at 9am it was feels like almost 100 already, besides one falls hike and one mtb ride, I stuck to jumps into the pool every hour or so and the walks there and back.

However, I arted things. It was so nice to sit and concentrate and plan and execute with stillness. I spent time learning how to finally draw a bike from reference, I planned out a circular scene to paint and painted a bit on my mug each day.  I am in LOVE with my new camping mug!  Since I probably shouldn’t amass any more mugs, I plan to buy small canvases and paint something every longer trip and build a camping wall.

Oops, I totally arted.

We also played a lot of games – catchphrase with some camping neighbors, and on our own, we played Farkle, Chupacapra, and the Pathfinder card game.  We painted a few miniatures as well.  However, we spent a lot of time hanging out with neighbors, reading books, or just kind of staring out into space absorbing the awesomeness of the wilderness.

I had visions of writing or doing business plan stuff, but it wasn’t the right vibe.  I felt so much mentally lighter leaving camp.  I feel like it’s about time to start dedicating a few hours a week to this stuff, and maybe sometime over the fall taking a camping trip SPECIFICALLY to write, but I really needed to unload a bit first.  And I totally did.

The RV Camping EcoSystem.

I have nothing relevant visually here, so enjoy a picture of the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen.

Previously, when we’ve camped in tent camping areas, we’ve either been camping with a group of people at Ren Faire, where there’s social-ness all around, or in other areas, where people just kind of keep to themselves.  Here, I expected to be on our own for six days, was kind of looking forward to it, but my social husband went around to make friends with everyone in the area, so we hung out with neighbors (some who had been coming here 6-26 years) about half the nights and ourselves the rest.

The mix of people there was… interesting.  I’d say, just like Austin, we were a little blue dot in a sea of red.  There was everything from confederate flag waving people to the guy who thought Ronald Reagan was God’s gift to the world, to the drama filled xenophobic party in the pavillion on the 4th… but oddly enough everyone else was peaceful.  The nice thing with an indoor space in the popup is that if you want to be antisocial – you just go inside.  It works out.

Also, the first few days we were there, it was us and GIANT RVs that cost as much as a house, so we were the crappiest house on the block (until the weekend came, and more popups showed up).  Most owners are super excited to show them off, so we got a few tours.  It’s just flippin’ amazing how like a little house some of these things are.  Some have two bathrooms.  Some have five beds in two bedrooms and full size kitchens.  Some have their own porches.  Some have “toy haulers” that fit golf carts, jet skiis, etc.  I don’t need any of those things but it was really fun to see how elaborate they can get.

If you want to see more of the gorgeous property, check out my album HERE.

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